A MUM has lost her finger – but is lucky to be alive after she caught a flesh-eating bug from a spider bite.
Andrea Wallace, 44, was told by doctors that her life was in danger when she arrived at Sunderland Royal Hospital in agonising pain.
The 44-year-old, from Seaham, now fears she may have to give up her hairdressing career as a result of her injury
Andrea did not even see the spider – thought to be a false widow – which bit her while she was playing in a field with her two young sons.
Assuming she had been bitten by a midgie, she was shocked when the bite doubled in size within hours, getting worse overnight.
The mum-of-four woke up in unbearable pain and rushed to hospital, as she could see the infection tracking up the veins in her arm.
“I just couldn’t stand the pain, it had really swollen up, the skin was cracking and there was black pus bursting out of it,” Andrea said.
“You could see the poison tracking up the vein in my arm, the veins were changing colour. It was like something out of a horror film.
“The doctors told me it was a spider bite because they could see two fang marks.
“They said if I’d gone to hospital a couple of hours later, the poison would have reached my heart and I’d be a goner.”
Andrea spent six weeks at Sunderland Royal Hospital as medics tried to stem the infection, before being transferred to Durham, where she was diagnosed with the flesh-eating disease necrotising fasciitis. She underwent 14 operations to try to save her finger before doctors decided it had to be amputated.
Andrea said: “I don’t think I’ll be able to return to work.
“You do need your hands as a hairdresser, although the doctors said I would start using my middle finger more.
“I guess I’ll just have to get used to using three fingers and a thumb.
“But it’s a small price to pay. Losing a finger is better that losing my hand or my life, isn’t it?”
Necrotising fasciitis is usually caused by microorganisms naturally occurring on the skin, infecting a wound which has not been cleaned properly.
Early symptoms include intense pain, usually around a cut or scratch.
According to the British Arachnological Society, no deaths from spider bites have ever been reported in the UK.